3 Things To Do For Someone Who’s Being Deported.

If you know someone who is going through deportation and don’t know what to do for them, today is your lucky day. Here are 3 things you can do that will go a long way in alleviating the stress and strain that they are most likely going through.

1. Take care of their groceries: People who are in deportation proceedings aren’t meant to work and this makes it really hard for them to find the money to feed their families. Getting them a reloadable money card and regularly putting money in it, is a good way of helping them with their groceries.

2. Ask what you can do to help: Nothing is more tragic than a person who helps others by giving them what he or she thinks they need, instead of asking them what they really need. If you don’t know what to do for a person who is being deported, ask them what their needs are. Don’t assume you know what they are.

3. Listen: When you ask them how they are doing, please listen to their reply. A call, a text or a quick visit to check up on them will go a long way in making them feel loved and wanted.

Honorable mention: Paying their rent, giving them money, praying for them, driving them to the immigration court or to see their deportation officer and similar acts of kindness will most likely make their day.


5 Tips On How To Prepare For Immigration Reform

Like many of the undocumented, I’m anxious to know how soon the immigration bill will be passed. I also am curious to find out whether I’ll benefit from it by getting to stay, work and live legally in the US. As far as I know, nobody knows what the bill looks like, nor the exact day it will be passed.

What I know is that the American people want the immigration system to be fixed. They also want the 11 million of us to be legalized. As we wait for the most unproductive Congress since the 1940s to get productive and pass the immigration bill, here are a few things we, the undocumented, need to begin doing:

  1. Start shopping for a real immigration lawyer. Beware of ­fake immigration consultants posing as lawyers. These lawyer wannabes are also known in español as “notarios“. A simple way of finding out whether an immigration lawyer is legit, is by asking them to show you their law license. Don’t be shy; you have the right to ask. A real lawyer won’t take your question personally. In fact, they’ll be more than happy to show you their hard-earned law license. If you don’t know where to start, check out my blog post on How to Pick an Immigration Lawyer.
  2. Don’t apply or pay for any “legalization” benefit. The comprehensive immigration bill has not yet passed, so ignore anyone who hands you a “legalization” form or tries to convince you to fill it for a fee. Avoid those forms like the plague.
  3. Collect and organize every single document you can find. Gather every document that shows you have lived in the US continuously. Then put them in a folder, in a safe, or underneath your mattress. Here are examples of documents you need to gather: Tax returns, drivers license, records of residence, bank records, proof that you have been to the doctor etc. Make sure you put them all in chronological order.
  4. Save Money. Chances are you will need to hire a lawyer to navigate the confusing immigration hoops that the government will have you jump before making you legal. You may also have to pay fines as well as USCIS application fees. It’s really important to start saving money because you will surely need it.
  5. Learn English. Some, like me, don’t think it should be compulsory for everyone to learn to speak “American,” but I know from experience that learning English will increase your chances of being successful. Being proficient in English will also make you an asset to your community. If you cannot afford to get an English tutor, simply become a member of your local public library and check out English as a Second Language (ESL) materials. By the way, library membership is free!  Click HERE to find your local public library.

The inspirational author H. Jackson Brown Jr. once said, “The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” It’s really hard to prepare for something that might or might not happen, but doing the best you possibly can will only set you up for success, if and when congress passes the immigration bill.

Times, they really are a-Changin.

For years, anti-immigration groups like NumbersUSA, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS)* have been using fear to keep the undocumented in this country mute and afraid. By spewing out slanted statistics, and xenophobic rhetoric, they have been very effective in brainwashing gullible citizens to dislike the undocumented.

 My favorite folk singer, Bob Dylan, sang a song called  Times, “They are a-Changin’.” Indeed, the Bobster was right. Times they are a-changing for the 11 million of us who are undocumented.

On the 5th of this month, House Republicans and Democrats held a hearing to wrap their minds around this immigration “issue.” The session was interrupted by a group of young protesters called Dreamers, who repeatedly chanted, “Undocumented and unafraid!” This act of defiance is emblematic of the sentiments many young undocumented immigrants in this country have. We’re tired of being used, but seldom appreciated. We’re also tired of being afraid, and we’re willing to come out into the open to speak our minds, despite the consequences.

Anti-immigration fanatics (you know yourselves) know that we are all onto them. The American people are no longer buying their tripe. These clowns now seem scared and shaken, and they ought to be because the time has come for the undocumented to be acknowledged, appreciated and helped.

In 2007 President George W. Bush brought forward a bill to legalize undocumented immigrants. Sadly, his bill fell 14 votes short of the 60 that he needed to push toward a final vote. Fast forward to 2013 and everyone, except those who have been living under a rock, agrees that the immigration system is broken. NOW is the time to fix it through comprehensive immigration reform.

So to those who are asking me and my compatriots to self-deport back to México, even though many of us aren’t from México, we have this to say to you: We are no longer afraid. Either join us, or get out of our way because immigration reform will happen this time. Whether you like it or not. Times, they really are a-changin’.


The Big Leak.

Last month, a White House snitch leaked a draft of the president’s immigration bill to the press. Everyone, including me, wanted to know what was in it. First of all, I’ve got to say that this leak is, by far, the most pathetic leak in the history of leaks. The fact that the White House had an “Oh well, these things happen” response, instead of flipping out and firing everyone and every thing in the White House, makes me suspect that the leak was indeed intentional.

So what was the big deal about the leaked bill? The leaked bill was a big deal to me because it gave me a rough insight into what the final immigration bill might look like. There is a chance, a great chance that both the Senate and House immigration bills will look somewhat similar to the president’s.

According to Obama’s bill, we, the 11 million, will be called “Lawful Prospective Immigrants” (LPIs) once we come out of the so-called shadows and apply for a visa to stay in the U.S. I hate being called names but I must say “Lawful Prospective Immigrant” has a really sexy ring to it. It’s better than being called an “illegal,” whatever that means.

To become an LPI one would have to be in the US on the day the bill is passed. Also, he or she would need to be an upright non-citizen and not a criminal. If the president’s bill is passed (and I’m not holding my breath), everyone in removal proceedings, including me, will be eligible to become an LPI. Even if an undocumented immigrant was busted for ducking in and out of the border after being deported, they, too, would be in luck. According to the bill, they, too, could apply to become “Lawful Prospective Immigrants”.

As an LPI club member, I would be able to work legally and would finally be able to travel out of the country. The only stipulation would be that I wouldn’t be able to stay outside of the US for longer than six months. The LPI visa would have to be renewed after four years. If I had wives and children in my home country, my LPI status would allow me to start petitioning for all of them to come and join me in the land of burgers and Beyoncé. The downside to this bill is that LPIs would have to wait in the back of the line for 8 years to get a green card and an additional 5 years to become US citizens. That’s assuming that the government pulls up their socks and swiftly takes care of the green card backlog, which currently has over 4 million applicants.

The leaked bill also talked about the dreaded worker verification system commonly known as E-Verify. The draft proposes that companies would have to E-Verify all their new hires and current employees within four years. This, I’m sure, is sending chills down the spines of many employers as well as undocumented immigrants who have been working on the downlow for years. I suspect that many immigrants may lose their jobs and those that don’t may be viewed as untrustworthy, once their status is revealed. As much as this reform is going to be a relief to many (and trust me we really need to be reformed), there is a high chance that that it may also lead to job loss, damaged friendships and shattered lives.

In the end, those great activists and politicians who fought on our behalf will pass the ball to us and expect us not to drop it. It’s incumbent upon us immigrants to start thinking of how we’ll deal with the inevitable changes that will take place in our lives and communities, if the immigration bill is passed.